Gov. Phil Murphy alongside U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Mayor Ras Baraka, Senator Troy Singleton, Assemblyman John McKeon, and environmental advocates, sign legislation requiring the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to evaluate the environmental and public health impacts of certain facilities on overburdened communities when reviewing certain permit applications. New Jersey is the first state in the nation to require mandatory permit denials if an environmental justice analysis determines a new facility will have a disproportionately negative impact on overburdened communities.
The bill defines an overburdened community as any community where 35 percent of the households qualify as low-income according to the U.S. Census, 40 percent of households are minority, or 40 percent of households have limited English proficiency. There are approximately 310 municipalities with populations totaling approximately 4,489,000 that have overburdened communities within their municipalities.
“Today we are sending a clear message that we will longer allow Black and Brown communities in our state to be dumping grounds, where access to clean air and clean water are overlooked,” said Governor Murphy. “This action is a historic step to ensure that true community input and collaboration will factor into decisions that have a cumulative impact for years to come. I’m incredibly proud that New Jersey is now home to the strongest environmental justice law in the nation.”
“With this bill that Governor Murphy signed today, we will begin to lift a costly and burdensome weight off the parts of our State that have been dealing with the negative impacts of environmental pollution the most,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “By being more judicious in the application of our environmental permitting laws, we can create more broadly shared prosperity in New Jersey. Because every New Jerseyan deserves a healthier, cleaner and more financially stable place to live, no matter their zip code.”
The bill requires the Department of Environmental Protection to evaluate the environmental and public health impacts of the following facilities on overburdened communities when reviewing the following permit applications:
- – Major sources of air pollution (i.e., gas fired power plants and cogeneration facilities);
– Resource recovery facilities or incinerators; sludge processing facilities;
– Sewage treatment plants with a capacity of more than 50 million gallons per day;
– Transfer stations or solid waste facilities;
– Recycling facilities that receive at least 100 tons of recyclable material per day;
– Scrap metal facilities;
– Medical waste incinerators, except those attendant to hospitals and universities.
“As a statewide and regional hub of industry, commerce, innovation and energy, the impact of the legacy of environmental contamination is real and present in New Jersey. This historic legislation is a model to show the rest of the Country how to ensure that communities are protected and how by utilizing both activism and leadership simultaneously, you can truly change the status quo,” said Baraka. “I applaud the leadership of our State policymakers for making this law come to fruition, and we give our thanks to Governor Murphy for making environmental justice central to his administration.”